Humberside Airport emergency landing man 'just wanted to get down'

Passenger John Wildey: "I hadn't a clue what to do to get down"

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A passenger who was forced to land a light aircraft after his pilot fell ill at the controls said he panicked and then just thought of survival.

John Wildey landed the plane at Humberside Airport on Tuesday night, under the guidance of instructors called in by air traffic controllers.

The pilot, who has since died, had collapsed in the cockpit.

Mr Wildey, 77, told BBC News he "just wanted to keep going, to get down".

'Controlled crash'

Mr Wildey is a flying enthusiast but has never had a lesson.

He said he "had plenty of doubts [about whether I'd survive], because I just didn't know what was going to happen".

"Luckily [the instructors] were talking to me on the radio all the time, so that was helping me. They gave me confidence."

He described how he landed the plane with a "right bump", saying it was like a "controlled crash, really".

Plane at Humberside Airport John Wildey landed at Humberside Airport under the guidance of flying instructors

Mr Wildey said the pilot, who has not been identified at the request of his family, was a "brilliant" man.

"We had a good laugh and a chat going out there and coming back and then it all happened," he said.

"I really feel sorry for his wife and his relatives, they're the ones that have actually suffered."

Actions 'phenomenal'

Mr Wildey and his pilot were the only people on board the Cessna 172 aircraft, which had travelled from Sandtoft Airfield, near Scunthorpe, to Skegness.

The men were close to arriving back at Sandtoft when the pilot fell ill and Mr Wildey had to be diverted to Humberside Airport to make his landing.

He said he was finding it hard to deal with the death of his friend.

"I didn't get much sleep last night worrying about, thinking about what I should have done, could have done," Mr Wildey added.

Richard Tomlinson, a friend of both men, said Mr Wildey was a "hero".

He said that "for somebody who is not a pilot but has been around airfields and been a passenger on several occasions to take control is phenomenal".

"The man is nothing short of a hero."

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